An Open Letter to Albertans

This, from the Inbox, an open letter from Dr. Jim Harding, author of Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System (Fernwood, 2007).

FYI and use. Also please forward to others. Cheers, Jim Harding
Subject: OPEN LETTER TO ALBERTANS

OPEN LETTER TO ALBERTANS – from a Saskatchewan Neighbour

I have just been to speak at community events discussing nuclear power in Peace River, Grand Prairie, Whitecourt, Edmonton and Red Deer, and will soon return to Lethbridge and Calgary. I have learned much about Alberta and its vibrant grass roots and, being there the week before the provincial election, I learned much about your reputation for having a one-party political system. And I learned more about the ecological and human impacts of the tar sands than I reckoned for. It was disappointing to see such a low voter turnout when AB is facing energy and the environmental challenges with such Canada-wide and global implications.

It was a bit like coming home, for I lived in Calgary as a child when my father worked for the Calgary Stampede. I would like to let Albertans know what I learned as I connected the dots on the nuclear controversy in your province.

1. DO THE REASONS GIVEN FOR ALBERTA GOING NUCLEAR MAKE SENSE?
ENERGY ALBERTA

When Energy Alberta Corporation (EAC) floated its trial balloon about building two AECL nuclear power plants near Peace River, it initially said the electricity was for the tar sands. It even said it already had a buyer for 70% of the electricity, a claim it later had to retract. After this PR kafuffle EAC did a 180-degree turnabout and said all its electricity would be sold into the AB grid. Tar sands companies confirmed they didn’t need the electricity, as the potential for co-generating electricity from waste heat in the tar sands (and elsewhere in AB) is largely untapped.
BRUCE POWER ONTARIO

Ontario’s nuclear company Bruce Power has now bought Energy Alberta’s option, meaning money passed hands without any energy being created. Bruce Power is a consortium of the uranium giant Cameco, Trans-Canada Corporation – which is into pipelines, and a few other interests. Bruce Power continues with the claim that nuclear power is needed to make up for a projected shortfall in AB’s electrical supply over the coming decade, although it also says it will explore using excess electricity to produce hydrogen to help process bitumen in the tar sands..

When the more reasonable ways to deal with electrical demand and supply are disclosed (see below), some expect Bruce Power will again shift ground and argue the excess nuclear-generated electricity can be exported into the U.S. market, adding to AB’s lucrative non-renewable energy export economy. The sceptics note that a transmission line to Montana is already in the works.

There are several problems with this export scenario. First, sending electricity along expensive grids for distant end uses is not at all efficient, though it may be profitable for some, perhaps Trans-Canada. The way to conserve electricity and reduce dangerous emissions is to produce it as close to the end use as possible. Second, AB is apparently not ideally located for accessing the larger U.S. grid, which is why we sometimes hear (from those who wish to become the mega-exporters) that Saskatchewan would be a better location to access the “hungry” eastern U.S. market. This would be equally irrational in terms of energy efficiency and environmental preservation. Third, if co-generation from the tar sands and elsewhere were systematically developed it would produce excess electricity for the AB grid. Some are already concerned about the impact of this excess electricity on the provincial market, without even considering adding nuclear.
AREVA FRANCE

The French nuclear state monopoly Areva is also lobbying for nuclear power in AB, especially at Whitecourt. It recently argued that AB needs nuclear power to maintain economic growth from the tar sands when natural gas runs out by 2030. (Sometimes the nuclear industry also tries to make homeowners think they’ll “freeze in the dark” because the tar sands will use up all the natural gas.) The natural gas industry has responded that this is nonsense: that they are working on efficiencies (combined cycle) and, anyway, new gas reserves will come on stream when the price rises. While the National Energy Board (NEB) has created scenarios of Canada having to import natural gas by 2030, this assumes we will continue to be an energy export branch-plant to the U.S. Also, the NEB scenario was created before a recent gas find in B.C.’s Big Horn basin, which is as large as in the whole McKenzie Delta. And remember, natural gas has the lowest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of all the fossil fuels and is therefore considered one of the transition fuels to a sustainable society.

2. WILL ALBERTA NEED NUCLEAR POWER BECAUSE OF A COMING SHORTAGE OF ELECTRICITY?

What about the nuclear industry argument that their toxic hardware is needed to address a future shortfall of electrical supply. AB’s electrical grid presently has nearly a 12,000 Megawatt (MW) capacity. (This means it could produce this much electricity if working at 100%). Bruce Power and Areva parrot projections by the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) that if the present increases in electrical demand continue there will be a shortfall of 5,000 MW by 2017, and then argue this will necessitate nuclear power.

EFFICIENCY, CO-GENERATION, GEO-THERMAL AND RENEWABLES

The Nuclear Energy Agency projected that 1,000 Gigawatts (GW) of nuclear electricity capacity would be needed in the world by 1990. The actual amount was one-quarter of this, or 260 GW. The nuclear industry regularly inflates future electrical demand as an economic growth strategy, and in the case of Ottawa-owned AECL, as a way to maintain government bailouts. And they are typically wrong, for a shortfall of electrical supply can easily be handled by a four-prong strategy that is much better for the environment and pocket-book. First, energy efficiency and conservation can greatly reduce demand for electricity (demand side management or DSM). Such energy savings can also be designed to reduce the electrical capacity required to meet peak loads. Second, waste heat in AB which can be used to co-generate electricity (especially in the tar sands) is likely the most underused in all of Canada. Third, geo-thermal electricity from all the geological heat along the mountain ranges hasn’t been seriously considered, and it has been suggested that interested parties can’t locate drilling crews because they are all tied up in the tar sands boom. And finally, even if somewhat unintended, AB is already helping lead the way towards a renewable energy path.

Renewable energy capacity in AB is already above 1,600 MW. (This includes 900 MW hydro and nearly 200 MW from biomass). Wind power is already at 545 MW capacity and will soon grow to 1,000 MW, which is equivalent to a large nuclear power plant. Renewables will then be 15% of the AB grid capacity, and only starting. Conservative estimates are that 3,000 MW of wind power is quite realistic. Some estimates go as high as 8,000 MW. By itself wind power could make up any shortfall in AB’s electrical supply, but that will be totally unnecessary if efficiency and co-generation are systematically implemented.

Then there is the potential of decentralized solar electricity. Since Germany decided on a phase-out of nuclear power in 2000 it is phasing in 1,000 MW of solar electricity a year. AB homes, buildings and farms can now be designed to be net producers of electricity that can go back into the public grid. When such an integrated sustainable energy strategy is in place across Canada the dirtiest coal-fired plants can be phased out, and we can accelerate the decommissioning of dangerous nuclear power plants.

3. WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?

Coal presently accounts for nearly half of AB’s electricity capacity (5,840 MW). While coal-fired plants emit the largest amount (45%) of GHGs in AB, planned tar sands’ expansion are likely going to make it AB’s major source of these. In any case, nuclear power is not being promoted in AB to replace coal plants. And nuclear power to expand tar sands production would just perpetuate the major role of heavy oil in creating global warming. Producing heavy oil creates 3 times the GHGs as does conventional oil, and the tar sands are expanding at such a rate that they could produce 3 times today’s GHGs within a decade. These emissions would make AB (and, if developed by then, SK) tar sands the world’s greatest single source of GHGs, outpacing even Harper’s much scaled-down emission reduction targets after he scuttled the Kyoto Accord. It would certainly be ironic if Harper – with his roots in the Reform-Alliance Party backlash to Trudeau’s National Energy Plan – ended up clashing with AB over its growing GHGs.

This all shows the absurdity of the claim that nuclear power is a way to reduce AB’s GHGs. Replacing natural gas with nuclear-generated electricity would somewhat reduce GHGs in the tar sands’ production process. However, if you calculate the GHGs produced all along the nuclear fuel cycle, from uranium mining to enriching to nuclear plant construction-decommissioning and nuclear waste management (especially as the grade of uranium-bearing ore starts to lower), the GHGs begin to approach those of the fossil fuels. Co-generation would create similar GHG reductions without creating the additional GHGs along the nuclear fuel system.

Though expanding nuclear is not an answer to global warming, it would increase the radioactive contamination of the planet. This would hardly be fair for the generations to come. And let’s not forget the expansion of nuclear power is linked to nuclear proliferation and the threat of more nuclear weapons being built, tested and used. Depleted uranium (DU) weapons linked to ecological contamination and rising cancer rates have been used in the Middle East since 1991.

Nuclear is far more expensive than the practical and safer alternatives. When pro-nuclear biases are removed from the Ontario Power Authority’s (OPA) 2005 cost-comparisons, nuclear is closer to 21 cents a kWhr, compared to natural gas and wind costs of around 7-8 cents. Photoelectric (solar) will soon be cost comparative with gas and wind. Co-generation, coming around 4 cents, continues to be the least-cost alternative for reducing GHGs. Energy efficiency that reduces demand for electricity has seven times the “bang for the buck” in reducing GHGs as producing more electricity capacity. So it’s pretty clear which is the responsible way for AB to go.

4. SO WHY IS ALBERTA BEING TARGETED BY THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY?

The Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) remains extremely dependent on federal government handouts and bailouts, and the Harper minority government has substantially increased the level of subsidies over previous Liberal governments. Harper’s 2008 budget provided yet another $300 million in subsidies to the AECL, in part to help it get ready to come to AB. In September 2007 the federal Auditor General estimated it will take more than $1 billion for the AECL to stay in the nuclear research and sales market. It would take $850 million over ten years just to replace, refurbish and clean up the Chalk River infrastructure, and another $400 million (on top of the $300 million already spent) to complete the design work for the reactor (ACR-1000) proposed for AB. Also, two hundred and sixty ($260) million dollars will be required to partly clean up Port Hope, Ontario where nuclear fuel is processed for export and fuel rods are fabricated for Ontario’s Candus. And on and on it will go until this industry is finally phased-out.

THE SASAKATCHEWAN AECL CAPER

You can see the AECL’s dilemma. They desperately need sales to justify these huge costs to the Canadian taxpayer. After decades of subsidies they totally failed to establish a viable export market for their traditional Candu design, the kind built in Ontario. So, in the late 1980s a private consortium called Western Project Development Association (WPDA), not unlike AB’s EAC and also backed by the AECL, came knocking at our door in SK, trying, but failing, to convince us we needed their toxic technology. They told us we’d have a shortfall of electricity, and risk freezing in the dark by 2000, but that they could save us from such a fate with a new 450 MW nuclear reactor (the Candu-3 design). They told us we’d need another such reactor by 2004. And, of course, they told us SK businesses would benefit by creating a Candu-3 export industry that the industrializing-developing world apparently craved. Business and professional groups who thought they’d profit quickly got on side. Seventy-five million dollars later, with not one Candu-3 built anywhere, the AECL left and went back to Ontario to consider their next survival plan. (They also tried to sell us their Slowpoke reactor, which cost us all $45 million to no end.) In 2008 your sceptical SK neighbours continue to get reliable electrical supply and we don’t have any nuclear power plants.

Does this sound familiar?

Having failed in the export market and with this SK caper, the AECL is coming to Canada’s “energy superpower” with a new ploy. Initially using the tar sands to get their foot in the door, they will use federal subsidies, federal-provincial Conservative party connections, and promotions about lucrative economic development within targeted regions and towns (e.g. Peace River, Whitecourt) to try to convince enough AB people that you have no alternative to nuclear power. This is their version of a “self-fulfilling prophecy”.

The AECL might survive a little longer if this strategy were to work. The Bruce Power consortium would profit. Cameco would increase sales in the uranium bull market. Trans-Canada could benefit from the construction of massive electrical grids, as it already does from natural gas pipelines. Meanwhile SNC-Lavalin in partnership with G.E., and France’s Areva, are waiting in the wings to get a bargain basement deal if (when) Harper privatizes the AECL. And the taxpayer would continue paying extra for any such nuclear expansion and these prospective buy-outs.

5. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE BRING THE NUCLEAR WASTE ISSUE INTO THE LIGHT?

As AB people come to understand full costing, and that they are already paying for nuclear through back door subsidies, they will become more sceptical of nuclear power. Realizing that their children will be paying for decommissioning and endless nuclear waste storage, with none of the benefits of electricity, could be the clincher.

Canadians have lots of common sense about nuclear power. Eighty-two (82 %) of us don’t believe nuclear power should expand unless the nuclear waste problem is fully resolved. This involves addressing the threat to future generations from long-lived nuclear wastes (spent fuel): the most toxic of all substances Plutonium-239, with a half-life of 24,400 years; Iodine-129 with a half-life of 17 million years; and Carbon-14 with a half-life of 5,600 years, which if leaked would get into the global carbon cycle. (The half-life is how long it takes for half the material to decay into other, also dangerous, radioactive elements.)

The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA), AECL, Cameco, Bruce Power and the industry-run Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) have engaged in a decade-long “public acceptance” campaign to get Canadians to believe that industry and government will come up with some solution to the accumulating nuclear waste. Trust us again, they say. Their “plan” is about putting the burden of nuclear wastes on the next and then the next generation, as past nuclear proponents have done to us. It is called “adaptive phased management”, which means “no plan.”

THE GLOBAL NUCLEAR ENERGY PLAN (GNEP)

When George Bush created the GNEP in 2006 he was looking for a way to get uranium-producing countries like Canada to take back nuclear wastes. (He also wants to keep a monopoly on nuclear technology, an admission that nuclear power leads to nuclear weapons and that the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is ineffectual.) The U.S. nuclear waste program at Yucca Mountain, Nevada is not going well from an economic, political or ecological standpoint. Australia’s neo-conservative Howard government came on side with Bush, but the electorate saw through the hidden agenda and Howard has been defeated and replaced. Now only the Harper government is onside with Bush’s plan, but Harper’s Ministers have been muzzled from talking about this because of its sensitivity with an upcoming federal election. Meanwhile, since the Chalk River medical isotope fiasco, Harper has replaced the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) head with someone who will pre-license and fast-track nuclear power in AB. Apparently, if the regulator stands in the way of profitable energy growth, diminish its authority.

Since Canada (SK) is the major world producer of uranium, we are the main candidates for taking back nuclear wastes under the GNEP. And being the front-end uranium-supplier of both the U.S. and French integrated commercial-military nuclear systems, it is no coincidence that the AECL wants to redesign its reactor so that it can use slightly enriched uranium (SEU) and spent fuel from the U.S. and French light water reactors. It is no accident that both AECL-backed Bruce Power and France’s nuclear giant Areva are knocking on AB’s door in the hope that its energy-driven boom will provide the cover for building a nuclear plant.

While there would be profits to be made, the real bonanza would be creating a technological rationale and location for bringing nuclear wastes to Canada. If a reactor was built on the Peace River or further south there would immediately be a build-up of nuclear wastes on site, and AB would then “qualify” as a place to send nuclear wastes from Ontario, the U.S. and abroad. Bruce Power is building up nuclear wastes at its Ontario reactors for which it has no permanent dump. And Cameco (part of Bruce Power) along with the AECL has been lobbying hard for over a decade for nuclear wastes to be brought back to the northern areas where uranium mining occurs, promoting the deep burial of nuclear wastes in the Cambrian Shield.

The nuclear industry has always expanded incrementally through half-truths and outright lies (e.g. about cancer-causing radiation, wastes, weapons, costs, etc.). Once you address all their promotional falsities you have to look deeper for their motives. In AB’s case it’s mostly about the wastes.

PROTECTING THE PEACE RIVER BASIN

With such plentiful efficiency and renewable energy alternatives and the catastrophic ecological challenges of the tar sands already at hand it’s hard to see why populist AB, with all its suspicions about government bailouts, would want to be cajoled into the nuclear path. Perhaps the real clincher, however, will be water. With the Athabasca River and those downstream already under assault from the tar sands, why would anyone want to risk having the Peace River system and the rich agricultural land of the region contaminated with tritium (radioactive hydrogen) and other radioactive isotopes? It seems unlikely that Lac Cardinal, a shallow and ecologically-important wetlands system that I visited, could handle the cooling of two huge reactors, as proposed by Bruce Power. Heats waves and droughts in France and the U.S. that will get worse with climate change have already forced nuclear plants to shut down or scale down. So much for this being a secure energy system. The reason why Energy Alberta and Bruce Power have not openly targeted the Peace River system for cooling nuclear plants is because this would awaken all those who depend on this amazing, sacred river system and water basin. I am certain that when the Indigenous and Settler people who depend upon the Peace River finally do awaken to the threat, the push towards sustainable energy will ratchet up in AB.

If AB makes the right choice and “votes” for sustainability and the protection of water, air and land, it will play a crucial role in helping Canada move in the right direction. The dangers and challenges of the tar sands clearly haunt the AB conscience. I can’t see why any reasonable and caring person would want to take on the added burdens of another ecologically destructive energy system, when there are such positive and practical alternatives.

So I ask you to please do what is right for future generations and us. Do it for our children and their children, and for the natural eco-systems we are finally learning to understand, respect and protect. Please keep AB nuclear free.

Yours Sincerely, Jim Harding, Ph.D.*

March, 2008

*Author of Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System (Fernwood, 2007). This is a non-profit publisher and all author royalties go to support local groups working for a sustainable society.

Updated: Wall deflecting for Harper?

Brad Wall, the Premier of Saskatchewan, steps into the uranium issue at an interesting time.  He’s off to the First Minister’s meeting, having completely changed his tune on equalization.

The media and national politicians have their eyes directed towards the Harper government’s most recent attack on the President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), Linda Keen. The attacks, both in the House in December and in the correspondence made available to the media, are unfounded. They are personal and partisan and based on an issue which the Harperites continue to convolute and obfuscate. Keen’s letter to Lunn notes that a special meeting with Lunn took place after a conference call and Minister Lunn stormed out partway through. The formal directive on which Mr. Lunn bases his attack, was received by the CNSC after the issue appeared on the Order Paper in the House. How could Keen have possibly acted earlier, especially when there are laws dictating how she must act? Isn’t it obvious, then, that the attack on Ms Keen comes because she refused to bend the law and succumb to the will of the Harperites? Oh, and did I remember to mention that the meeting was about the MDS-Nordion million-dollar medical isotopes issue?

Today, the federal Liberals call for Lunn’s head on a platter and question the release of a report on AECL which was delivered to the government in September 2007. And, also today, the new premier of SK pulls a Ralph (as in Klein) and demonstrates how little he knows about the nuclear fuel cycle. From CBC Sask:

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall wants the province to get some environmental credit for the uranium it mines, but an environmental group is highly skeptical.

Wall argued Tuesday that nuclear power offsets the amount of fossil fuels burned in the world.

Say what?

Most people who have thoroughly researched the nuclear fuel cycle will have to acknowledge that huge amounts of GHGs are emitted at every stage of that cycle, from cradle to grave — and there is no grave for radioactive waste! It often moves from storage facility to storage facility.

I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Wall is able to pay his staff so very well because of kickbacks from the pro-nuke lobby? Granted, Mr. Wall’s staff are new to this government thing and will, of course, support Mr. Wall’s partisan agenda. And memories of the Devine regime remind SK-dwellers that, in the right wing world, partisan politics and the lining of one’s own pockets trumps morals any day. I wish I could pull from my memory each and every one of the issues on which Devine and Mulroney colluded and obfuscated. Are we seeing history repeat itself?

Mr. Wall would be well advised to acknowledge that the supply of uranium is limited to only a few short boom years. We need to look ahead, beyond short-term gain, to the future of our children’s children. So, instead of wasting time and energy on a backwards and dying industry, why not invest in something modern like a solar power plant to produce energy? The USA and Spain are already there. We could be in on the leading edge, especially with our sunny days!

These plants focus sunlight onto pipes which carry a ”hot oil,” Therminol 66. One class of solar collectors raises the temperature of the oil to 345 degrees Celsius (650 Fahrenheit). A large thermal reservoir can store a large amount of solar energy, enough for two weeks. The oil is never burned, however; it is continually recirculated though the pipes and the storage containers. The heat drives steam generators and turbines in order to generate electricity. Variations can be used with fibre optics to light buildings and heat water. Though it wasn’t the case a decade ago, there is now a lot of expertise and experience on solar power plants, enough to safely and economically put the hoped-for nuclear renaissance to its grave, once and for all. Solar is an industry waiting to grow!

Wake up and turn on the lights, Mr. Wall, this is the 21st century, after all.

UPDATE: (with thanks to ReWind.It at Bread’n’Roses.) The CBC reports that the recent isotope crisis has moved the US government to explore alternatives to obtaining medical isotopes from Canada:

The National Academy of Science, a group of scientists based in Washington that advises Congress on a number of issues, has been asked to consider four questions — all relating to the supply of medical isotopes, and whether the U.S. should consider producing its own.

DOTmed.com reports that it goes a little deeper than just Chalk River:

At the request of NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, the National Academies have begun a year-long review of the state-of-the-science in nuclear medicine. This study results from the uncertainty about future federal funding for nuclear medicine research that accompanied the drastic reduction in support for the Medical Applications and Measurement Sciences (MAMS) program that had been supported by the Department of Energy for decades. The MAMS program was virtually eliminated in the Administration’s 2006 budget and was again not included in the 2007 proposal.

Experts at the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) have been asked to provide findings and make recommendations around four issues having to do with nuclear medicine:

* future needs for radiopharmaceutical development for the diagnosis and treatment of human disease,
* future needs for computational and instrument development for more precise localization of radiotracers in normal and aberrant cell physiologies,
* national impediments to the efficient entry of promising new radiopharmaceutical compounds into clinical feasibility studies and strategies to overcome them and
* impacts of shortages of isotopes and highly trained radiochemists on nuclear medicine research, and short- and long-term strategies to alleviate these shortages if they exist.

No wonder the Harperites are all worked up! Their buddies might end up going elsewhere for medical isotopes.

UPDATE 2: Jason Kenney’s been shooting off his mouth, thinking  he knows something.  There was no crisis, Jason!  But I guess this tells us something about the sorry state the Harper government is in on the issue.  POGGE has the stuff.

I missed that the Auditor General’s report on AECL had been released.  (Damned real world! Or was it the Obama /Clinton thing?)  According to this report, Minister Lunn may well have known  months agothat the reactor at Chalk River was experiencing difficulties.

Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn may have known in September that the Chalk River reactor needed improvements to protect public safety, months before it was shut down, according to an auditor general report released Tuesday.

Auditor general Sheila Fraser said she presented a report on Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) to the corporation’s board on Sept. 5, 2007.

The cover page of the audit says: “We would like to draw your attention to a significant deficiency related to the unresolved strategic challenges that the Corporation faces … it is our view that this report contains information that should be brought to the attention of the Minister of Natural Resources. Accordingly, following consultation with the Board, we will be forwarding a copy of the report to the Minister.”

The report goes on to highlight “three strategic challenges” AECL faced, including “the replacement of aging facilities at Chalk River Laboratories (CRL).”

Never a dull moment in the nuke world, is there?

US attempt to sneak $25 BILLION in support to nuke industry

From Democracy Now, Amy Goodman interviews Harvey Wasserman, a no nukes activist in the USA:

The House is set to vote on Tuesday on the $500 billion 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. Unveiled on Sunday, the measure covers budgets for all cabinet departments except the Pentagon. It’s expected to pass both houses of Congress this week.

Hidden in the bill is a major energy package that would boost government financing for the nuclear industry. It would provide loan guarantees of up to $25 billion for new nuclear reactors. A massive grassroots campaign forced these taxpayer-financed loans out of the national energy bill earlier this month, but last week Republican Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico slipped them back into the budget vote.

Harvey Wasserman has been at the forefront of raising awareness about the dangers of nuclear power. He helped found the grassroots anti-nuke movement in the early 1970s, advises the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. He’s senior editor of the Ohio-based freepress.org and editor of nukefree.org. Harvey Wasserman has also co-authored two books on the 2004 election. They are How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election and Is Rigging 2008 and What Happened in Ohio: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004 Election. …

HARVEY WASSERMAN: Well, we beat Pete Domenici. With Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Keb’ Mo’, Ben Harper, we put out a music video on nukefree.org. We raised 120,000 signatures and presented them to Congress in October. And Domenici was forced to pull these nuke loan guarantees out of the energy bill, but then slipped them back into the appropriations bill.
And the nuclear power industry is a fifty-year proven failure, and they can’t get independent financing to build their own new reactors, which they want to do now. And so, they’ve gone to the government. This is one issue where we’re in agreement with Forbes magazine and the Cato Institute, which is backing the opposition to these loan guarantees, because if nuclear power, after fifty years of huge government subsidies, can’t make it in the marketplace, why should the taxpayers fund another $25 billion worth of reactor construction?

We’re on the brink of a tremendous energy revolution in solar, wind, tidal, geothermal. You know, we’re looking almost at a solartopia of a renewable-based economy, which will be much more controllable at the grassroots, much more democratically oriented. And that’s why the nuclear power industry is desperately holding on here.

Go.  (Interview at about 9:30; text on site)

Nuclear Power Is Not The Answer: Nader

Ralph Nader is speaking out on the nuclear issue in the USA and he’ll be in Regina to talk about NAFTA and Corporatism on September 19 at 7:30 pm in Ed Aud.


From Common Dreams:

Taxpayers alert! The atomic power corporations are beating on the doors in Washington to make you guarantee their financing for more giant nuclear plants. They are pouring money and applying political muscle to Congress for up to $50 billion in loan guarantees, to persuade an uninterested Wall Street that Uncle Sam will pay for any defaults on industry construction loans.

Since 1974, there has not been a filled order for a nuclear power plant. Following the Three Mile Island near-melt down, many spills and shutdowns, then the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, the electric utility bosses found a negative Wall Street and a protesting public in their communities too much to overcome. They dropped nuclear power like it was a radioactive hot potato.

It was just too financially risky, bogged down with delays and cost over-runs, with too many spent fuel rods filling pools at the plants because no permanent storage sites for deadly radioactive wastes had been certified. Big time financing also dried up. Finally, risks of sabotage and nuclear proliferation became prominent national security problems in the post-9/11 era.

But the atomic power industry does not give up. Not as long as Uncle Sam can be dragooned to be its subsidizing, immunizing partner. Ever since the first of over 100 plants opened in 1957, corporate socialism has fed this insatiable Atomic goliath with many types of subsidies

Still, it’s tough to have to admit that after over half a century, this coddled industry still can not pursue its capitalist path into the market standing on its own feet.

So for years, the Nuclear Energy Institute, mouthpiece for the industry, dangled new, smaller, allegedly less risky (on paper, at least) designs as a way back.

Then the big break came-global warming fed by the burning of coal, oil and gas. Violá, atomic energy, its proponents declared, produces no greenhouse gases (apart from massive coal fuel emissions to enrich the uranium). “Nuclear power can be the answer.” This became the hyped theme for millions of dollars in advertisements and propaganda reports.

And they’ll be lining up at the trough in Canada, too.

A Simple Statement on Nuclear Power

A petition from the Nuclear Information Resource Service (NIRS):

“We do not support construction of new nuclear reactors as a means of addressing the climate crisis. Available renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are faster, cheaper, safer and cleaner strategies for reducing greenhouse emissions than nuclear power.”

Sign ItI signed because I agree that:

We’re getting a little tired hearing nuclear industry lobbyists and pro-nuclear politicians allege that environmentalists are now supporting nuclear power as a means of addressing the climate crisis. We know that’s not true, and we’re sure you do too. In fact, using nuclear power would be counterproductive at reducing carbon emissions. As Amory Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute points out, “every dollar invested in nuclear expansion will worsen climate change by buying less solution per dollar…”

The Not Sponsored by CAMECO Gala

Corporate sponsorship in Saskatoon SK has been a tool of CAMECO, the multinational uranium giant, to enter into the hearts of Saskatchewan residents. But not everyone is buying into it, thank goodness!

Here’s a great event taking place in Saskatoon on the 22nd of September: the NOT Sponsored by CAMECO Gala! There will be live music, dancing, awards, prizes, satire, and Atomic Mutant Monster Videos, along with a cash bar. Suggested donation for all this fun? only $7 at the door (Cosmo Senior Citizens Center 614 11th St E. in Saskatoon)!

Not sponsored

Harper nuking Canada

Begin forwarded message:


Subject: [Rad-waste] Unresolved questions remain about environmental implications and costs. (nuke waste)

 

Nuclear energy endorsement may be linked to tar sands and climate change pressure

Unresolved questions remain about environmental implications and costs.

Ottawa, June 18, 2007 ­ Why is the minority Conservative government proceeding on nuclear energy at a time when it is fighting to regain public support after a difficult spring?

Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn announced Friday the Harper government’s endorsement of nuclear power and its approval of going ahead with storing high-level radioactive waste underground.

“Really, what this will allow is a permanent storage and a deep geological depository,” Lunn said. “This is an important decision for the government of Canada. As you know, the nuclear industry is very, very important.”

For years, the lack of long-term disposal plans has hobbled the nuclear industry, which has lobbied heavily for burying waste deep. Canadians, however, have always said no when asked to have nuclear waste disposal sites in their communities. At the news conference, Lunn dismissed concerns raised by environmentalists about the risks of nuclear energy as well as economic concerns about safe storage plans.

“This is just the beginning of a long process but they (the industry) will be able to begin that process today. It will allow the fuel to be retrieved as technology moves forward and, more importantly, allow it to be monitored continuously as it’s going through the storage process.”

The announcement makes sense for three key corporate sectors: tar sands, nuclear and construction/development. With the government under pressure to do something about greenhouse gas emissions related to the growth of oil extraction in the Alberta tar sands, nuclear seems an ideal option.

In the June 8, 2007 issue of Executive Intelligence Review, Rob Ainsworth, of the arch-right-wing Canadian LaRouche Youth Movement reports, as have others, of “a project in the Alberta tar sands to construct two 1,100-megawatt reactors, providing power to the area, as well as heat and steam for industrial purposes.” It takes an enormous amount of energy to extract oil from tar sands, and nuclear is been touted as a way to greatly reduce the amount of oil burned to support the process.

Every aspect of nuclear power development is both enormously expensive for governments and profitable for the corporations involved. “Most of the top engineering and heavy construction firms serve the energy sector in one form or another,” writes Vance Cariaga in Investor’s Business Daily. “Some go straight to the wellhead by offering design and management services for oil and gas production. Others build hydrocarbon processing plants, liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and nuclear power facilities.”

The licensing of more reactors would also be a great boon, at potentially greater public expense, to Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, which has received subsidies of $17.5 billion over 50 years, according to the Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout.

The Conservatives’ announcement allows existing reactor sites to continue accumulating waste indefinitely, and it initiates a search for an “informed community” willing to host a “deep repository” for burial of wastes. It will also explore moving wastes to a central location for temporary, shallow underground storage and recycling of nuclear fuel.

As Susan Riley writes in today’s Ottawa Citizen, “Apart from the experimental nature of the proposed solution, many hurdles remain ­ notably, finding a community desperate enough to become a nuclear dumping ground. It has been long supposed that some remote northern town would be the lucky winner, given the technological preference for disposing of the waste deep in the Canadian shield. But recent research suggests the sedimentary rock underlying much of southern Ontario would also be suitable. That said, the prospect of a bidding war between Oakville and Rosedale appears unlikely.”

With these plans, the Harper government has made an unequivocal commitment to nuclear power and ignores difficult issues of radioactive wastes that have never been resolved by scientists or the Canadian public. Nuclear power remains vulnerable to human carelessness, as well as deliberate acts of terrorism or other sabotage. Even the best-designed radioactive waste repository will leak and expose future generations to radiation. The federal environmental assessment panel concluded in 1998 that from a social perspective, the safety of deep geological disposal has not been adequately demonstrated, has never been officially contradicted or disproved.

“From a technical perspective, safety of the AECL concept has been on balance adequately demonstrated for a conceptual stage of development, but from a social perspective, it has not,” the report stated. “As it stands, the AECL concept for deep geological disposal has not been demonstrated to have broad public support.”

Nuclear power has left unresolved environmental problems in Canada. Uranium mining has killed Saskatchewan lakes. Processing uranium has created a permanent toxic legacy in the town of Port Hope, Ontario. CANDU reactors routinely release radioactive carbon dioxide and radioactive water contaminated with tritium during their operations, polluting air and water and jeopardizing human health, as confirmed last week in a report commissioned by Greenpeace Canada.

The government announcement reflects recommendations in a report by the government-appointed Nuclear Waste Management Association, which is largely made up of nuclear industry or ex-industry personnel. The Sierra Club of Canada’s Emilie Moorhouse said, “Its interests are not public health. Its interests are the promotion of this industry.”

Related individuals, organizations and significant events
Intensity-based targets promote oil industry frame

Harper Conservative vs. Public Values Frame
Long process / Unstoppable expansion
Green / Unresolved public safety questions
Economical / Massive subsidies

Links and sources
Feds back underground disposal of nuclear waste , Canadian Press, June 15, 2007
Susan Riley, Going nuclear by stealth , The Ottawa Citizen, June 18, 2007
The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility
Canadian LaRouche Youth Movement.
Rob Ainsworth, Will Canada Join the Rail and Nuclear Renaissance? , Executive Intelligence Review, June 8, 2007
Vance Cariaga, Heavy Construction Firms Busy Helping Thriving Energy Sector , Investor’s Business Daily, May 22, 2007
Tyler Hamilton, Hot granite and steam could clean up oil sands, Toronto Star, May 30, 2007
Environmental Assessment Report on High Level Waste Disposal Concept, 1998
Chinta Puxley, Radioactive tritium in Great Lakes puts kids at risk: study , London Free Press, June 13, 2007
Canadian Nuclear Subsidies: Fifty Years of Futile Funding, Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout

Posted: June 18, 2007 at http://www.harperindex.ca/ViewArticle.cfm?Ref=0057

_______________________________________________

Rad-waste mailing list

Rad-waste@list.web.net

http://list.web.net/lists/listinfo/rad-waste

Connection: gas tanks and dinner table

Sandra Finley is the Leader of the Green Party of SK, an entity much different from the Green Party of Canada.  This is her take on some recent announcements and propaganda as well as a letter to a Con MP by Marc Loiselle and an excellent piece by Darrin Qualman, the Director of Research for the NFU.

Subject: Connection: gas tanks and dinner table socjust
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2007 13:49:14 -0600
From: Sandra Finley <xxxx@xxxxxxxx>
To: xxxx@xxxxxxx

In "health" we have fought the increase in pesticide use brought about by
the introduction of gmo crops.  Now, the Government is providing hundreds of
millions of dollars to help develop the production of crops for "biofuels".
The economics, etc. don't support it.  But another concern of mine is that
as cropland is turned over to fuel production, we will have more and more
gmo crops.  Because people won't follow what's happening if the crops are
destined for our gas tanks and not dinner tables. ... /S
-------------------

Many thanks to Marc Loiselle for his letter to Member-of-Parliament, Brad
Trost.
Brad is also my MP. I received the same letter that prompted Marc to "set
the record straight".

Marc used the excellent analysis provided by Darrin Qualman (below -
BIODIESEL AND ETHANOL CAN'T FUEL THIS CIVILIZATION) to contest this MP's
claim  "Biofuels:  A Win-Win Situation".  (Unfortunately the MP's article
isn't yet posted on his web-site.  www.bradtrost.ca.  And I don't have time
to type it from hard copy for you.)

I left a message for Conservative MP Carol Skelton and talked with the
office of Conservative MP, Lynn Yelich.  I don't know if the letters to
their constituents contain the same article used by Brad Trost.  I hope not
and have forwarded this email to both Carol and Lynn.  We have bad decisions
when people, MP's and others, are poorly informed and thereby voiceless.

*** IMPORTANT:  in smaller print at bottom of his mail-out, Brad Trost, MP
cites his source
  "Statistics from:  Canola Council of Canada  www.canola-council.org ".

NEED TO UNDERSTAND the MP's INFORMATION SOURCE:

Our work on the opposition to Monsanto's gene-altered
"spray-chemicals-on-it-and-it-won't-die" wheat led us to the Monsanto vrs
Percy Schmeiser Supreme Court case.   One of the questions addressed was:
why would a "farmer organization" (the Canola Council) be an intervener in
the Supreme Court on the side of Monsanto?  why wouldn't they be on the side
of Schmeiser?

What we found is that the Canola Council is a "bought" organization.  The
buyer is Monsanto.  Some memories will be twigged by the example of Ed
Sirski from Manitoba, one of the farmer Directors of the Canola Council.  He
and his wife were wined and dined on a free trip to Spain.  At the time we
provided other examples of other "boughts".

The Canola Council IS Monsanto. The glossy Canola magazines are industry
propaganda.  Paule Hjertaas submitted an analysis of an article in the
Canola Digest.  The article manipulated the research to proclaim to farm
families that they are not at risk from exposure to chemicals.  Paule showed
how the reporting of the research was manipulated.  In spite of letters to
the Board of Directors they wouldn't, of course, print her analysis for
their farm readers.

It is Monsanto's herbicide-tolerant canola that heavily impacted overseas
markets for Canadian canola.  But hey!  we can use it for mass production of
bio-diesel. ... It can happen ONLY IF we citizens do not have INFORMED
DEBATE and SOLID INFORMATION on the actual economics of the biofuels.  They
can proceed IF all we receive is the industry propaganda.  How convenient
for the industry to have the Government doing that job for them.  (How
fortunate for us that we have the analysis by Darrin Qualman below, and the
internet to access more information!)

We have gone through the long list of examples from the public record of
just how corrupt Monsanto is.

Now here we have this Member-of-Parliament pumping out the virtues of
biodiesel.  Biodiesel is made from "oilseeds such as canola".  Monsanto's
gmo canola.

There are many UNBIASED sources of information - Darrin Qualman has nothing
to gain financially from his consideration and analysis of the economics and
trade-offs related to biofuels.  I EXPECT BETTER than that the "information"
distributed by my MP is based on "Statistics" from the Canola Council
(Monsanto).

God help us if the decisions of Government, all the money they are now
pouring into the development of biofuels, is based on  "Statistics from:
Canola Council of Canada  www.canola-council.org " .  From Brad Trost's
newsletter:  "The Conservative government has allocated $345 million to help
farmers & rural communities take advantage of new opportunities to produce
biofuels, biofibres and biopharmaceuticals."

I urge you all to follow the lead of Marc Loiselle.  Talk to your elected
representatives.  They are taking us onto a band-wagon headed for oblivion.
We are BADLY in need of informed decision-making by Governments, decisions
that are not based on industry propaganda and corporate interest.

Best wishes,
Sandra
=====================

MARC'S LETTER

SENT TO:  Stephen Harper;Clements, Tony. Min.Health; G.Breitkreuz, MP; NDP
Caucus; Nilson,J. Min.Env.; Parti Vert/Green Party-info.; Peter Prebble,
MLA; Saskatchewan Environmental Society; Serby,Clay, Min. Rural Dev; SK
Party Caucus; Skelton, C. Min. WD; Taylor, L. Min. Health; NFU; Mark Wartman
Min.Ag; Sandra Finley, SK Green Party

Mr. Trost,

I read with disgust your cover page on Biofuels in you latest newsletter
sent to constituents. You and your government have been swindled into
believing that biofuels are a panacea for the agricultural sector and for
the environment. The truth is just the opposite and the money you have
allocated, $345million will only be money in the pocket of the biofuels
developers, not to farmers!

The perceived benefits of biofuels are offset by the actual energy necessary
to produce them. We need to look at the whole picture, which includes what
it takes to get a final product; not just at the so-called benefits.

This investment would have been much better spent on sustainable organic
agriculture across Canada and adding back to provide more publically funded
agricultural research instead of handing it to large corporate and
multinational interests who don't have the best interests of Canadian
citizens in mind, only those of their shareholders.

I invite you to please read the following document authored by Darrin
Qualman, a leading researcher in Saskatoon. (document is also attached file)
He explains in layperson terms, what the actual situation is with biofuels;
something sorely lacking or purposefully avoided by proponents and
mainstream media.
Taking an excerpt from Mr. Qualman: "Ethanol is bad physics, bad biology,
and bad policy..."

Expecting better from government!

Regards.

Marc Loiselle
==========================

BIODIESEL AND ETHANOL CAN'T FUEL THIS CIVILIZATION  (Darrin Qualman)

The following represents the opinions of NFU Director of Research Darrin
Qualman and is presented for information only.  It does not necessarily
represent the policy of the National Farmers Union.  Your comments are
welcome.

            It is hard to convey just how powerful, convenient, unique, and
irreplaceable petroleum is.  Oil is hyper-concentrated energy available, in
many places, for the pumping.  It is relatively stable and transportable—you
can carry it in a bucket. With a bit of refining, it can be poured into weed
wackers and luxury jets; it can run factories and cargo ships.  It is the
energy windfall equivalent of a thousand lottery wins.  It has created the
largest and most luxurious civilization the world has ever known.  There is
nothing else like it on Earth, and there never will be again.

                Biofuels—ethanol and biodiesel—offer only a fraction of the
energy that petroleum does.  More precisely, they offer only a fraction of
the energy surplus—energy not required to be put back into the system to get
more energy, energy you can use to support other aspects of our
civilization.  Any move from an oil-fueled economy/civilization to one run
on bio-fuels would require a radical downsizing and restructuring, because
bio-fuels are dramatically less “powerful” than oil.

                The preceding is true if you accept the well-founded but
necessarily pessimistic energy balance calculations of David Pimental or Tad
Patzek, but equally true if you accept the optimistic energy balance
calculations put forward by biofuel proponents.  This point bears repeating:
The problem with biofuels is not just that their energy balance is less than
one (that it takes more energy to create them than they eventually yield),
the problem is that even if you accept industry claims of energy balances
greater than one, biofuels yield only a fraction of the surplus energy that
petroleum does.  Planting the entire planet to biofuels would yield only a
tiny fraction of the energy we use today.  Biofuels cannot replace
petroleum; they are not a sufficiently powerful energy source to fuel our
current version of civilization*—not even remotely close.

                There are many claims that the energy balances for biodiesel
and ethanol are “positive”—more accurately, claims that the energy balances
are greater than one.  Just for the sake of this article, let’s accept for a
moment that the energy balance for ethanol is 1.5 units of energy out for
every unit in ( www.greenfuels.org ) and the energy balance for biodiesel is
2 units of energy out for every unit in (  www.biodiesel.org  )  (Both these
figures ignore “externalities” such as resource and water and topsoil
depletion, but externalities also exist for petroleum production.)

            If biofuels’ energy balance is 1.5 or 2 units of energy out for
every unit in, then if you put the equivalent of ten barrels worth of
biofuels energy into the biofuels production system, you end up with 15 to
20—a net gain of 1.5  to 2 times the original investment.  That’s what the
energy balance number means: a balance of 1.5:1 or 2:1 means you get out 1½
or 2 times more energy out than you put in.

            But if you have ten barrels of oil and you put them into oil
production, you can produce anywhere from 50 to 100 barrels of oil,
depending on where production takes place and under what conditions
(tarsands production exempted from the preceding statement).
                With oil, it’s approximately one or two barrels in: ten
barrels out.  With biofuels, it’s approximately five to eight barrels in:
ten barrels out.

                These ratios mean that if you have ten barrels of oil, you
only need to set one or two aside to get ten more barrels; the other eight
or nine surplus barrels can be used to fly aircraft, build cities, fuel
automobiles, wage wars, etc.  But if you have ten barrels of biofuel, you
need to set aside five to eight to get ten more barrels.  You only have two
to five “surplus” barrels to fuel the other projects of civilization.  In a
biofuel system, the majority of your energy supply is required for energy
production.

                Any proposed transition of our economy/civilization from oil
to biofuels would mean a transition from an energy source that yields a 500%
to 1000% gain on energy invested to one that yields a 50% to 100% gain (at
best, and probably less than 0% if the many scientists who calculate
biofuels’ energy balances at less than one are correct).  The impoverishing
effects on our energy-dependant, growth-based economy and civilization are
easily predictable.

                Running a civilization on oil is like running a farm with a
very efficient pony: for every ten bushels of oats you and the pony grow,
the pony eats one or two; you have lots of oats left over to sell and lots
of surplus money to re-invest in expanding other aspects of the farm.  But
running a civilization on biodiesel or ethanol is like farming with a lazy,
hungry pony—it eats most of the oats it helps to grow.  You have little
surplus to re-invest in other areas.  Your farm is not nearly as prosperous
or fast-growing.  In fact, if the surplus oats is not enough to feed you and
your family and to sell to cover the other bills, the farm may have to
shrink.

                Biodiesel and ethanol are not sufficiently rich energy
sources to support the kind of civilization we are now running—the western
car culture of leisure, luxury, and privilege.

            Over and above the problem of whether biofuels could
theoretically yield enough surplus energy to underpin our economy, there is
a second problem: in absolute terms, there will never be enough  biofuel to
support current energy consumption levels.  Global oilseed production
(canola, soybeans, etc.) is about 400 million tonnes annually.  At 60
gallons of biodiesel per tonne of soybeans, turning the entire global supply
of soybeans into biodiesel would yield 24 billion gallons per year.  That’s
about 1/6 of the 150 billion+ gallons of diesel fuel consumed each year in
the world.  Turning the world’s entire corn and wheat crops into ethanol
would similarly supply less than a third of the world’s gasoline needs.

                Thus, converting the world’s entire food supply to biofuels
might supply us with 20% or 30% of our fuel needs (again, accepting the very
optimistic energy balance numbers put forward by promoters).  More
realistically, we could, at most, turn 10% of our land over to fuel
production—yielding, at best, 2% or 3% of our liquid fuel needs.  And the
reality may be even worse: If the biofuels production system were actually
fuelled totally by biofuels, we wouldn’t even have this small fraction
available to run trucks and cars: we’d have to put well over half the
biofuels back into the energy production system to produce more.  Thus, that
2% or 3% would really be just 1% or 1.5%.  Biofuels are irrelevant.  These
small percentages make biofuels largely irrelevant.

            Further, we may not even be able to access that 1% or 1.5%.  We
are in a food-supply drawdown; in six of the last seven years, humans
worldwide consumed more grains and oilseeds than we produced.  We are in the
fastest food-supply drawdown recorded in the 45-year data.  The world’s
cropland area has been static or declining for a decade.  And we are adding
the equivalent of a North American population every six years.  Given
declining food supplies and a static landbase, it is hard to believe that we
can solve our current hunger problems and feed an additional 2.5 billion
people and fuel a global proliferation of the SUV culture.  We should
consider the possibility that we may be heading toward food supply
challenges, and that there may be no “surplus” land available to produce
biodiesel and ethanol.

            Finally, there is the question of greenhouse gas emissions.
This issue is complex and potentially confusing, but consider the pony-oats
analogy again.  Imagine a pony that ate all the oats it helped produce.  It
could produce and consume for 20 years and never yield any surplus oats.  In
energy balance terms, this is equivalent to an energy balance of 1—the
energy (oats) in equals the energy (oats) out, and there is no surplus.

                Similarly, if you had an ethanol system with an energy
balance of 1.0, you could run it round and round, year after year, making
and burning ethanol (or burning the ethanol-energy-equivalent in diesel fuel
and natural gas), and creating no surplus energy.  The greenhouse gas
emissions (from fertilizer plants, farm tractors, etc.) would mount, but you
’d never succeed in fueling an automobile even a single mile because you’d
never generate any surplus ethanol to put into that car.  In this scenario,
the greenhouse gas emissions for ethanol would be infinitely greater than
for gasoline.

            Now, consider a situation wherein the ethanol energy balance is
1.5:1.  If you burnt the energy equivalent of one unit of ethanol in the
ethanol production system, you’d get 1.5 units of energy out.  Of those 1.5
units, you’d have 0.5 units surplus, and you’d put the other 1.0 unit back
into the system and burn it, yielding the next 1.5 units—another surplus of
0.5.  Now you’d have accumulated a total surplus of one unit (0.5 units plus
0.5 units); but you have already burned two units getting that one.  And,
when you burn the 1 surplus unit in the car, your total will be three units
burned: 1 in the car and two in the field and refinery.  For comparison—on
basis comparable to the 3 units of ethanol burned and emissions
produced—simply burning gasoline would yield about 1.25 units of
emissions—one unit burned in the car and 0.25 burned in getting the oil and
refining the gasoline.  For an energy balance of 1.5:1, for a given mile
driven by a given car, burning ethanol creates over twice the emissions that
burning gasoline creates.

                Let’s forget the preceding for a moment.  Let’s accept what
the proponents of biofuels claim: that the use of biofuels reduces
greenhouse gas emissions.  We could ask: By how much?  Moving, over the next
five years, to a 5% ethanol blend in Canada will result in little or no
reduction in actual gasoline burning because total motor fuel use will
probably continue to increase at about 1% per year as it has.  Thus, five
years from now, even as we add ethanol to the mix, we’ll be burning the same
amount of gasoline we are now; plus we’ll be burning about 5% as much again
in the form of ethanol—a fuel that, according to proponents, generates only
slightly fewer greenhouse gases (and according to many credible sources
produces more).  Even as we move to adopt biofuels, we are increasing our
greenhouse gas emissions from oil-based motorfuels.  The widespread adoption
of biofuels, seemingly Canada’s only significant current  initiative to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will not even begin to tackle the problem.
And by some analyses, such a move makes the problem far worse.

Conclusion
                Investing massively in ethanol and biodiesel production may
turn out to be the greatest public policy mistake in a generation.  As
energy sources, even accepting the rosy calculations of proponents, they
will never be sufficiently powerful or abundant to replace more than a tiny
fraction of petroleum.  And for that fraction they do replace, they may well
increase greenhouse gas emissions and speed global warming.

                The fervour with which policymakers, the media, and the
public have fastened onto ethanol and biodiesel may simply be a reflection
of our fear.  We fear what an oil-limited and a climate-change-constrained
future may hold for our experiment in economic and energy-use hyper-growth.
Our focus on ethanol and biodiesel, like similar attention being paid to
hydrogen, may simply be a way of ignoring biophysical limits and pretending
that we can double and re-double the size of our global economy and the rate
at which we use resources.  The dominant belief still seems to be that each
generation will be better off than the previous one, and that 9 billion
people can eventually come to live like Toronto suburbanites.  As we plow
into problems created by trying to fuel our castle-in-the-sky civilization
on oil, we are now casting around for other solutions, telling ourselves we
can fuel it by burning food.

                One last thing needs to be said, however: This isn’t all bad
news for farmers.  Clearly, incinerating the world’s food supply in
ever-more-numerous SUVs has the potential to create shortages and to drive
up grain prices.  The current grain supply drawdown began eight years ago,
before the advent of significant ethanol or biodiesel production.  But
biofuel production (coming as it does at a time when grain supplies are
touching a thirty-year low and coupled with the reality that we’re adding
the equivalent of two-and-a-half Canada’s each year to global population)
has the capacity to trigger short term grain shortages that could lead to
grain prices doubling, as they did in the mid-’70s and mid-’90s.  Ethanol is
bad physics, bad biology, and bad policy, but the publicly subsidized
vaporization of food stocks can be good for farmers.  Despite valid concerns
about energy balances or greenhouse gas emissions, the biofuels project will
proceed and accelerate.  And with or without ethanol or biodiesel, there are
almost certainly higher grain prices ahead for farmers. nfu

 *          Our current industrial civilization and its growth-based economy
has its detractors.  This article won’t examine whether continued production
and use of “Hummers”, either as assault or commuter vehicles, is in the best
interests of the biosphere or the global population.  What this article will
do is to analyze the question of whether an automobile-based, industrial
economy could be significantly fuelled by biofuels.  Can ethanol and
biodiesel even partially sustain the status quo?
    <!--[endif]-->
<!--[if !vml]--><!--[endif]--> Food is energy (and vice versa)

Modern, industrial agriculture turns fossil fuels into food.  Nitrogen
fertilizer is synthesized directly from natural gas.  Humans are now
producing so much nitrogen from fossil fuels that we have doubled the amount
of nitrogen cycling in our biosphere.

 The very high energy content of our food prompted one NFU member to quip
that biofuels are a way of “turning energy into food into energy.”  This
observation has some merit.  Biofuels are a project wherein we channel part
of our energy-augmented food supply into creating a food-augmented energy
supply.
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Marc & Anita Loiselle
*Loiselle Organic Family Farm*
'Holistic Stewardship for Abundant Life'
Certified Organic since 1985
Championing Red Fife Wheat
*Ferme Biologique Familiale Loiselle*
'Intendance Holistique pour la Vie Abondante'
Certifié Biologique depuis 1985
Champions du blé Red Fife

Celebrating a century of family farming 1906 - 2006
Le centenaire de notre ferme familiale 1906 - 2006

P.O. Box 25
Vonda, Saskatchewan
S0K 4N0
tel: 306-258-2192
fax: 306-258-2169
email: loiselle@baudoux.ca
website: http://loiselle.ma.googlepages.com

Farmer of the Year award – 2007
Organic Crop Improvement Association, Int.

Marc Loiselle - board of directors Chairperson,
Prairie Red Fife Organic Growers Cooperative Ltd.

Marc & Anita Loiselle
Worldwide Marriage Encounter provincial registration contact couple
A WWME Weekend is a gift you give each other and a wonderful affirming love
and life enhancing event. We believe every married couple deserves this
experience!

Marc Loiselle
Communications & Research Director,
Organic Agriculture Protection Fund (OAPF),
‘To preserve and protect certified organic food and fibre production’
directeur des communications et recherche,
Fonds de Protection de l'Agriculture Biologique (FPAB),
‘Pour protéger et préserver la production d’aliments certifié biologique’
Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (SOD)
http://www.saskorganic.com

“Biotechnology and GM crops are taking us down a dangerous road, creating
the classic conditions for hunger, poverty and even famine. Ownership and
control concentrated in too few hands and a food supply based on too few
varieties planted widely are the worst option for food security.” Christian
Aid

“La planète est le bien commun de l’humanité. En prendre soin donne un sens
à la vie” SOS-Planète

====================
Email from:
Sandra Finley, Saskatoon
306-373-8078; sabest1@sasktel.net
Email network started in year 2000
Joined Green Party in May 2006
Leader, Green Party of Saskatchewan, Oct 2006
--

Unethical investment

From the inbox, something we’ve known for a long time:  nuclear power is too risky to be an ethical investment, according to The Ethical Funds Company.

The Ethical Funds Company says nuclear power is too risky

 

Vancouver, BC – January 19, 2007 – Nuclear power carries too many risks to qualify as a sustainable investment, according to a new report published by The Ethical Funds Company, Canada’s leading manager of socially responsible mutual funds.

 

The Ethical Funds Company has published its review of major nuclear risks in One is Too Many: Considering Nuclear in a Time of Climate Change.

 

“We were motivated to conduct this review by recent claims that nuclear power can serve as a primary strategy for fighting climate change,” said Bob Walker, Vice President, Sustainability, at The Ethical Funds Company. “In our view, these claims do not take into account the significant environmental, social and political challenges and risks associated with nuclear power.”

 

The Ethical Funds Company’s case for excluding nuclear power from its investment portfolios is based upon five issues: 

 

1. Financial sustainability. The electricity industry is currently moving towards privatization of power generation. In order to attract investment on the open market, nuclear power plants will need to compete with other kinds of electricity generation. Cost analysis indicates that despite decades of government support – and in the absence of future subsidies – nuclear power cannot compete with coal, natural gas or some renewable sources of electricity. 

 

2. Nuclear power safety. Analysis indicates that with an expanded industry we can expect as many as four nuclear “core” damage incidents by mid-century. Examples of this type of incident include Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986. One accident, in our view, would be unacceptable.

 

3. Waste disposal. After 20 years of study, the nuclear power industry has not yet resolved the issue of nuclear waste disposal. One of the world’s most advanced sites, Yucca Mountain in Nevada, has been delayed on technical grounds and because of local opposition. 

  

4. Nuclear weapons proliferation. Nuclear weapons capability is connected to nuclear power capability. Governments and nuclear strategists acknowledge that an expanded nuclear industry increases the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation. This is a risk, society and future generations should not be asked to bear.

 

5. There are better options. A multi-strategy approach to climate change is now gaining traction among academics, business leaders and policy-makers. This strategy involves using a combination of conservation initiatives, existing renewable energy technologies and carbon capture and storage. Nuclear power need not be part of our future energy mix.

 

“There are technically achievable, more sustainable and less risky options for fighting climate change,” said Walker. “Massive investment in nuclear power could divert resources from these options and leave us with environmental and social challenges for our children and grandchildren to clean up. All these factors continue to make nuclear power as unacceptable to us now, as it was 20 years ago.”

 

 

About The Ethical Funds Company

Launched in 1992, The Ethical Funds Company is Canada’s leading manager of socially responsible mutual funds. In addition to evaluating all investments according to their financial, social and environmental performance and outlook, The Ethical Funds Company promotes corporate accountability – making good companies better – and gives investors a voice in encouraging sustainable business practices.

 

 

For more information, please contact:

 

Bob Walker

Vice President, Sustainability 

The Ethical Funds Company

Tel: 604.714.3833

http://www.ethicalfunds.com/

 

Jane Mitchell 

Public Relations 

The Ethical Funds Company

Tel: 604.714.3843

http://www.ethicalfunds.com

 

®Ethical, and The Ethical Funds Company are registered marks owned by Ethical Funds Inc.

ACTION: Baird in Regina

The inbox is the source of all activity these days.  Check this out and then the following:

psst…pass it on…

Greet Federal Environment Minister John Baird

5:00 p.m. Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Canadian Italian Club
2148 Connaught Street, Regina

Bring banners, placards and noise-makers to make noise in support of a green Canada which meets its commitments to the Kyoto Protocol.

“Green is the colour,
The climate is the game
We’re all together
and reducing is our aim
So let’s all work to stop climate change
Saskatchewan Green Greeters is our name”

(adapted w/o permission)

Info gathered from here